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Letter: Lawmakers should not allow utility bills to increase

Letter: Lawmakers should not allow utility bills to increase

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Gas leak forces evacuations downtown

Workers with Spire replace a manhole cover at the corner of 10th and Locust Streets on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, after a major gas leak near construction. Several buildings in the area were evacuated while Firefighters and utility workers handled the situation. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

I did not expect Missouri lawmakers to use the most recent legislative session to take the opportunity to increase home energy bills.

Legislation to increase the Infrastructure System Replacement Surcharge, with a newly expanded scope, was lobbied by Spire Inc., and it could increase household energy bills by approximately 10%.

Spire’s practice of using this surcharge for unnecessary projects (i.e., replacing gas pipes that are not “deteriorated” or “worn out” as the law requires, but just to collect extra profits) was struck down by the Missouri Court of Appeals as illegal. Accordingly, consumers are due more than $14 million in refunds. However, thanks to Spire’s friends in the Legislature, this method of overcharging for natural gas will be allowed again. Only Gov. Mike Parson’s pen stands in the way of this unnecessary rate increase.

Now is not the time to raise our utility bills. It is a disgrace that enhancing the profits of monopoly utilities is a legislative priority. Especially now during the shutdown when it’s harder to get information about what legislators are doing, and on behalf of whom.

Hopefully, Parson will rise to the occasion and veto this extra surcharge.

John B. Coffman • Webster Groves

Consumers Council of Missouri

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